With Levante's 2-0 loss away to Osasuna on Sunday, Real Madrid stepped into first place in the Liga BBVA standings for the third time this season. But this moment is particularly special for Madrid fans because Sunday was the first time in a little under a year that Real Madrid occupied first place in la Liga without any other team.
A year ago, Real Madrid topped la Liga before getting thrashed by FC Barcelona in the Camp nou: they appeared to be rolling, an unstoppable juggernaut lead by new sensations Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria. After the drubbing, they settled comfortably into the chaser role, adopting a new style of pursuit and gritty defensive play that allowed them to capture the Copa del Rey, and reach the semi-finals of the Champions League (only to lose in a highly contested match).
This year's Madrid side will no doubt look at their previous-year counterparts for inspiration: they'll look at the arrogance and euphoria that carried into the Camp Nou, and remind themselves constantly that they haven't accomplished anything yet. Similarly, madridistas won't be satisfied with their team the way it is. We'll be thrilled with the victories, and the quick-punch, lighting attack style, but we'll always have last season in the back of our minds. We won't let the team rest or take off matches until the objectives are complete.
And, just like that, we're back on the road: Madrid have a very, very complicated November, with a visit to Valencia, and the Madrid derby with Atletico Madrid just around the bend. We'll all have to keep our eyes glued to the TV to see how this turns out.In other news, Villarreal have lost another major player to a long injuri: Cani, one of their talismanic midfielders, went down in their 1-0 victory on Saturday, and will be out for six weeks. I'm feeling pretty good about my "will Villarreal get relegated?" narrative wager this week.
Real Betis lost 1-0 away to Racing Santander on Sunday, further solidifying everyone's opinion that their fantastic start to the season was a complete fluke. They're now on my list of potential relegation candidates.
Finally, and yeah, I know there were more games, Athletic Bilbao (one of my favorite non-Real Madrid teams) drew 1-1 away at Sporting in a match that everyone will instantly forget. The battle to lose out on third place is really heating up right now, with Sevilla and Valencia both in the mix.